Caruso, missed by Lakers, emerges as Chicago’s hope

Caruso is the salt and light of Chicago.

The Chicago Bulls lost 115-116 against the Phoenix Suns in the 2023-2024 NBA regular season on Monday (Jan. 9) at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It was a close loss in overtime.

The loss was a disappointing one, but it was a glimpse into Chicago’s potential. After being outplayed by 현금홀덤사이트 Phoenix for most of the game, the Bulls were able to send the game into overtime in dramatic fashion on a last-second basket by Dermar Drojan. Alex Caruso’s performance was key to that. Caruso defended Phoenix’s Kevin Durant throughout the game, and in the fourth quarter, he completely shut him down.

On the night, Caruso not only did what he does best, which is defend, but he also had a huge game on offense. He finished with 19 points, four rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. On offense, he was highly efficient, making seven of nine free throws and four of five from three-point range for an 80 percent success rate. In overtime, with the score 110-109, he hit a three-pointer with Durant in front of him. Despite the loss, Caruso’s +24 scoring margin on the night was the best of any player in the game.

Chicago has a big three in DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, but it was Caruso who shined the brightest. Caruso was the energy of the team.

Chicago is off to a slow start in the 2023-2024 season. They’re 3-6, which isn’t great for this early in the season. The main reason for this is that none of the aforementioned big three players are doing their job. Drojan and Rabin are shooting poorly from the field, and Vucevic’s impact on offense has diminished significantly. All three players are not great defenders. This makes it difficult to win games.

Chicago also didn’t have the reinforcements they needed last summer. Losing Patrick Beverley and acquiring Jevon Carter were the only real additions. The Bulls also gave the Orlando Magic their first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft in the Vucevic trade. There are no rookies to energize the team.

In this bleak situation, Caruso is the only player that gives Chicago fans a reason to smile. Caruso is playing the role of Altoran in the 2023-2024 season, averaging 7.8 points, 4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in 23.6 minutes per game on 59% shooting from the field and 44% shooting from three-point range. Caruso’s biggest organ, defense, has been one of Chicago’s biggest strengths this season.

He’s been dominant on defense, and even better on offense. His 59% field goal percentage and 44% three-point percentage are very encouraging in a small sample size. Caruso is the only player who fills in the gaps in Chicago’s big three. He’s a treasure for Chicago.

What makes Caruso even more endearing to Chicago fans is the rest of his contract. In the summer of 2021, Caruso signed a four-year, $37 million deal with Chicago. He’s tied to the team through the 2023-2024 season for just under $10 million per year. Caruso’s contract was considered a bargain at the time, but his current performance makes it a ridiculous price tag.

Perhaps the most disappointing team for Caruso is his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Caruso made his debut with the Lakers and played a revolutionary role in their Finals victory in the 2019-2020 season. However, when he became a free agent after the 2020-2021 season, the Lakers didn’t pursue him. Instead, the Lakers chose Tyler Horton-Tucker. The Lakers had to choose between Caruso and Horton-Tucker for salary cap purposes, and they chose Horton-Tucker. And it turned out to be a terrible decision. Caruso has become one of the best defenders in the league and a valuable resource, while Horton-Tucker hasn’t made the team and has become a junkyard dog.

It’s clear that the Lakers would have benefited from having Caruso on the roster right now. The Lakers are looking for a player who can consistently play good defense. This summer, they brought in Gabe Vincent, who played well in the playoffs. They haven’t been able to fill the void left by Caruso, so they’re continuing to look.

It’s interesting to note that if Chicago continues to struggle, Caruso will likely become available for trade. At this point, Caruso is good enough that all 30 NBA teams are interested in him. Will he be able to keep it up?

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